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Growing up in a religious, fundamentalist environment, doubt and provocative questioning were perceived as evil and extremely dangerous. Exploration was permitted, but only within the parameters handed down from on high. Creativity was good, but only if I stayed within lines of safety.
But the questions were always there beneath the surface. Festering. Brooding.
There was no giant eruption. No seismic explosion. Just a crack slowly formed in the levee as I began to give myself permission to ask one question, which led to another and another.
At first they were questions that were “safe” and did not threaten to bring my whole world view crumbling down. But as I became more accustomed to the discomfort of sitting within the mystery of my questions, I would wander further out. The questions became more daring. I began to recognize the physical sensation of my brain making adjustments and reshaping itself to accommodate the changing landscape.
Asking all of these questions were never for the sake of trying to be difficult or just wanting to watch the world burn. Something drove me. A deep unsettling. Something——a lot of things—seemed off and everything I had been handed was coming up short.
During this time of exploration and unraveling, my art took a back seat as a result of me losing my certainty. I didn’t know how to paint an unbelief. I didn’t know how to share something with others when all that I possessed were broken pieces.
I voiced these frustrations in an online group that I had found that was comprised of people who were on a similar journey of abandoning old paradigms and exploring new ones. One individual commented that I was looking at it all wrong. This is the best time to create art, especially in the face of uncertainty! To let my questions fuel my art. To let my doubts be my muse. To let others know that they are not alone on this exhilarating yet ominous journey.
So I made the decision to begin drawing daily—even if I thought it was awful—and to write out my corresponding thoughts for each image—even when the words seemed painfully inadequate. Sometimes the image came first and at other times the words emerged initially.
And so began my odyssey of trekking further and further away from the clearly marked paths of certainty. A chronicle of images and thoughts came to life for those who care to catch a glimpse of where I have been and where I am heading.
My desire is for these mementos to be for the benefit of us all, to remind us to be continuously curious, ever expanding, and breathing life into that spark of hope that is leading us onward and upward.
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